This is How a Car Engine Works (Animated Infographic)

Sure, we all love cars, but not all of us are mechanically-inclined enough to take an engine apart and put it back together.

Many of us know what terms like “exhaust manifold” and “differential” mean (even if we couldn’t explain how it really works). Hell, a lot of us can change our own oil, gap and swap out some spark plugs, and maybe even install some new fuel injectors.

But what about the folks that don’t know what the crankshaft actually does, aren’t really sure what the compression ratio is, or why a slipping timing belt can bring an engine to its knees?

After all, why do you need to know that stuff when you can just drive a car and when the ‘Check Engine’ light comes on, take it to a mechanic?

Well, because it’s damn interesting, that’s why. Plus, having a better understanding of your car might just help you troubleshoot problems and sound smart to your friends.

This super cool animated infographic by Jacob O’Neal gives a wireframe view of a typical four-cylinder engine, explains its cycles, all (well, many of) the numbers involved, and which parts do what. So while you may have heard the word “distributor” before, now you’ll actually know what it does.

And knowing is half the battle…G.I. Joooooeeee.

Ah, you’ve noticed it’s not animating and it’s kinda hard to read. Go on then, give ‘er a click.
How a Car Engine works

Chris Burdick

Chris Burdick

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Hi! I founded in May of 2006. I'm an avid sports car and supercar enthusiast. My favorite cars include the Audi R8, Lamborghini Diablo 6.0 VT, and Koenigsegg CCX. I think the Ferrari 360 Spider is still one of the most beautiful cars in existence. For “normal” cars, I tend to lean towards imports - Nissan, Audi, and of course the Italians. I'm in love with my Pearl Yellow (don't judge) 1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo and plan to get around 550 HP to the rear wheels one day. I'm also a world traveler and have been backpacking Europe since March 2012, writing about cars along the way
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    THE MORE YOU KNOW *******

    • Christopher Burdick

      Haha! Exactly.